My Sole has some concerns…

Seachoice label- Sole

I love fish. I’m still practicing how to cook it. My usual method is: get my dad to BBQ it.
Dad, and BBQ unavailable, you’ll probably find me opening a can of tuna or defrosting some smoked salmon.

I have been able to pull off some fancy fish dishes. Trout paupiette with salmon mousse, Snapper Grenobloise, Ocean perch en papillote with pesto potatoes. However, I’ve also messed up a nice cut of salmon, halibut steaks, a pretty whole snapper, a mess of something I was trying to poach.
Fish is expensive.
Fish is also a murky shopping experience.
Let’s put aside the issue of: can I sub this fish for that?
and the shady practice of the many types of fish that are sold as snapper.
and perhaps, dive into: what is a basa fillet?
Hankering for some fish and chips the other day I headed out to T&T Supermarket to pick up something that looked like a White Firm flesh fish. Navigating through the little signs indicating wild caught or farmed I found some basa and googled it. Oh dear. Apparently the cheap basa is a farmed fish from the Mekong River in Vietnam, and my google hit list pretty much started off with 10 posts saying “Beware”. Why? Apparently there is a lot wrong with the basa fish from parasites and antibiotics, to polluted waters and sketchy farming practices.
Please don’t get me started on BC’s farmed salmon.

Perusing Nester’s Market the other day I came across Seachoice.org’s new food labels and I had to laugh when I saw the package of Sole labelled with “some concerns”.
Would you walk out of a butcher shop with a package of sausage labelled with “some concerns”?
I bought some “approved” catfish instead.
But I must admit I still feel somewhat clueless here. Why is this one good, and this one bad? Seachoice.org has a pamphlet to explain their sustainability labeling system here.

Oceanwise is another program running in BC. Restaurants have been listing their fish selections with “oceanwise approved” labels that I’ve for the most part ignored, until now.

Ocean Wise’s recommendations are based on 4 criteria. An Ocean Wise recommended species is:
Abundant and resilient to fishing pressures.
Well managed with a comprehensive management plan based on current research.
Harvested in a method that ensures limited bycatch on non-target and endangered species.
Harvested in ways that limit damage to marine or aquatic habitats and negative interactions with other species.
Ocean Wise’s classification system is based on two categories: sustainable or unsustainable, simply a good or bad choice for our oceans.

Oceanwise’s sustainable seafood list can be found here.

I’m happy to report, my shellfish and crustacean favourites: clams, crabs, are all oceanwise approved too.

How to cook fish is only half the battle.

If you live in Vancouver, there is a fish store called The Daily Catch. Another option: 7 Seas (7 seas is also available at costco!@!). They leave me with an empty wallet, and a lovely piece of expensive fish that I really really hope I won’t screw up.

I will wait in anticipation for the next friend of a friend whose friend caught some fish last weekend or the summer months when the fish boats show up on granville island.
In the meantime, I’ve learned something cheap and wonderful to do with sustainable fish.

IMG_13501) Fish chowder- done easily using the bones and head to make a broth, and use a small 100g fillet to add nice chunks of meat into your finished soup.

2)Inexpensive fillets baked in the oven over some potatoes and a bit of pesto. Wrapped up in parchment paper- presentation looks impressive. The best part is, it absolutely does not matter which fish you use. Arctic char, ocean perch, Salmon… click here for the recipe.
fish en papilotte


submitted to Gastronomical Sovereignty’s fabulous Fresh Food Wednesday Link-Up!:

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4 Comments to “My Sole has some concerns…”

  1. Hi Anja! I love your post! You’ve inspired me to try to inspire my dad to create a fish for dummies website or something. He’s a fishing and marine wildlife conservation expert. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

  2. Great post. Another good shop for fresh fish and even organic meats is a small place on East Hastings & Penticton called the Wheelhouse. They often have a very tasty chowder simmering, a cup of which will warm your tummy and savour your taste buds.

  3. Well this post thought me of something. I like fish, any kind of menu. The one you posted Anja, I instantly research on it haha thanks

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